Framingham School Committee Approves $8.3 Million in Capital Infrastructure Plan, Including $600,000 Feasibility Study For New Elementary School

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FRAMINGHAM -n This week the City of Framingham’s School Committee voted to approve the school district’s annual request of priority capital projects for Fiscal Year 2022, as well as to team up with the City Division of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs on a joint recreation request. These projects and the district’s capital planning process seek to invest in priority needs, as well as save money in the long-term by prioritizing preventative maintenance and health safety projects, utilizing existing infrastructure, and fully using warranties and cost effective contract vehicles in partnership with municipal departments. 

“The School Committee’s request seeks to fund what is sorely needed so students, staff, and our community can benefit,” said Adam Freudberg, Chair of the Framingham School Committee and District 4 Member. “Continuing to jump start the planning process with a study helps Framingham gain the option to access tens of millions of dollars of state funding in order to fix a major gap in our community by seeking to add an elementary school south of Route 9. We also prioritized security improvements, environmentally friendly upgrades, exterior upgrades, ADA and HVAC improvements, and a new athletic field. With this plan, we have teamed up with the Superintendent and Buildings and Grounds to create an opportunity to make a series of strategic investments to support our current students and educators, as well as the generations to come.”

“I would like to thank the Buildings and Grounds team for once again putting forward a list of proposed projects that carefully balances the need across several key areas,” said Scott Wadland, District 3 Member and Chair of the Buildings and Grounds Subcommittee. “While the total amount requested is significant, it pales in comparison to the total backlog of school maintenance that has accumulated over the years. Going forward, we stand ready to work with the Mayor, CFO, City Council and SIFOC (Strategic Investment and Financial Oversight Committee) on a long-term plan that addresses required maintenance while still allowing us to take advantage of opportunities to make strategic investments in our facilities.”

“While the demand of action to ensure that our buildings can withstand the test of time always out balances the supply of money to get all of the jobs done, our outstanding Buildings & Grounds team has yet again gone back to the drawing board to craft the prioritization list that was reviewed on Wednesday evening,” said Superintendent Dr. Robert A. Tremblay. “I look forward to getting started on these long-overdue projects that will benefit our City for decades to come.”

This plan was passed by a 9-0 vote of the School Committee on October 7, and was previously passed 4-0 by the School Committee’s Facilities Subcommittee on September 17.  

If approved by the Mayor and then City Council, these capital projects will support the 9,300+ students, 1,800+ employees, and members of the community who utilize schools on evenings and weekends at sites across the City of Framingham. The following projects were carefully selected as part of the Framingham Public Schools (FPS) multi-year capital planning process. Projects proposed for funding and supported by FPS and School Committee are:

  1. Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Feasibility Study for a Future Elementary School – $600,000
  • Pre-Feasibility Study for the renovation/replacement of an Elementary School was conducted by TBA Architects the summer and fall of 2019. This study included review of the Hemenway Elementary School site as well as property south of Route 9. Currently, the District has a limited number of schools south of Route 9. The District’s Long-Range Facility Plan calls for a periodic renovation/replacement of three elementary schools over the next 10-15 years. Developing a school south of Route 9 would serve the entire city well by improving school accessibility, and thereby reducing transportation costs by reducing the number of students who require busing across the district in the current school choice model. In order to participate in the MSBA reimbursement program, the City must first appropriate $600,000 for a Full Feasibility Study. This study is required to comply with MSBA guidelines in order for the City to receive an estimated reimbursement rate of approximately 57% for a school construction project.
  1. Exterior Envelope Improvements to roofs, walls, windows, and doorways at Walsh Middle School – $2,156,095 
  • The district’s five year capital plan includes estimates for the exterior envelopes of all buildings. Each year the top project(s) are identified as priorities where urgent work is needed to repair or replace exterior walls, windows and sealant systems and associated components. FY21 projects were previously funded and are now in the construction process at Hemenway and Wilson Elementary Schools, Cameron and Walsh Middle Schools, BLOCKS Preschool at Juniper Hill, and the Transportation Building. This new request is for the exterior walls, windows and sealant systems and associated components to be removed and replaced or repaired at Walsh Middle School.
  1. Paving and Stormwater Drainage Repairs at Walsh Middle School and McCarthy Elementary School – $1,095,000
  • Upgrades and repairs are necessary to the existing driveway, parking lots, and stormwater systems, and to ensure compliance with federal environmental and stormwater runoff requirements. At Walsh, pavement mill and overlay, new ADA compliant sidewalk and pedestrian ramps, parking and driveway restriping, and stormwater management system upgrades are needed. At McCarthy, pavement mill and overlay, new parking area expansion, new ADA compliant sidewalk and pedestrian ramps, parking and driveway restriping, and stormwater management system upgrades are needed.

  1. Roof Repairs at the Farley Building – $1,826,975
  • The Farley Middle School roof is in poor condition and moisture was observed at multiple roof test cuts. Additional roof deck repairs are necessary based on moisture on the deck, and areas of deterioration and rusting. 
  1. ADA projects at multiple schools to support projects and compliance with curbs, sidewalks, handicap ramps/lifts, bathrooms, doors, and signage – $300,000
  • These funds would support the installation of a vertical wheelchair lift with enclosure, bottom floor ramp with gate power operator to be installed at the former lift location at the High School, as well as new toilets in the main entrance of the Farley Middle School to comply with ADA requirements.
  1. Asbestos Abatement and Replacement at Brophy Elementary School – $600,000
  • This project is part of the district’s proactive approach to follow the Department of Environmental Protection’s requirements for all schools and address areas that show signs of wear. Brophy Elementary School is one of several older schools that contain asbestos in ceilings, floors and pipe coverings above the ceilings that FPS has identified as needing attention.  There is no imminent danger, so this project will remove asbestos before it becomes dangerous.  

  1. Security Enhancements at multiple schools including security cameras and electronic door access systems – $250,000
  • This request will further support and enhance the already robust security systems and measures at all schools. This includes enhancement function modules, badging system upgrades, wireless indoor/outdoor lockdown system, alarm upgrades, and access controls for doors.
  1. HVAC at McCarthy Elementary School – $1,500,000 
  • The project would add cooling to the existing McCarthy Elementary School HVAC systems. McCarthy was recommended next on the FPS list due to data analytics reflecting higher temperatures, especially on the second floor of the school. In the warmer months temperatures in some areas of the school can reach unhealthy levels in excess of 90-100 degrees. This project will include final design work, preparation of bid documents, specifications & plans, OPM services, construction oversight, construction and project closeout costs. Adding air conditioning will take advantage of the HVAC and electrical infrastructure already paid for and in place, while making the working and learning environments comfortable and safer for the McCarthy community. 

Total: $8,328,070

Joint Athletic Field Project with the Division of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs at the New Fuller Middle School
Additionally, the Framingham Public School Department and the City Division of Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs, in coordination with the Fuller School Building Committee, are submitting a joint budget capital request for $3,212,670 to fund two artificial turf playing fields at the new Fuller school site. Currently, the City only has one turf field, located at Framingham High School, within its inventory of athletic facilities. This is below many other communities within the Baystate Conference. From a competitive standpoint, this has left the over 3,000 athletes participating in sports at Framingham High School, and all youth outdoor sports organizations, at a competitive disadvantage. Once this project is completed, it will provide the City with two fields that can provide use to a wide range of sports, including soccer; lacrosse; football; and field hockey. In addition, the field can be used for early season baseball and softball practices to allow those spring teams an opportunity to have equitable access to playing fields that athletes in other communities enjoy. An added benefit is that the students at the newly constructed Fuller Middle School will also have access to an outdoor recreational amenity for physical education classes and recesses for almost the entire calendar year.  The School Department and Parks, Recreation & Cultural Affairs Division believes that this project will be a huge benefit for the City and a source of pride for all students involved in outdoor, active recreation. This project was also approved unanimously by the City’s Parks and Recreation Commission on September 30th.

Roofs and Long-Term Infrastructure Needs
During the meeting School Committee Members and FPS leaders commented on the wide ranging needs the District’s 15 buildings need over the next decade. Like most districts, FPS does have its share of infrastructure challenges. However, under the leadership of our Building and Grounds Department the district does a terrific job making our schools safe and attractive places to learn and work. The District is continuing to refine the previously published long-term capital plan which reflects the multiple other infrastructure needs required over the coming years. As of today, this plan summarizes the anticipated roof repairs/replacements, paving/environmental stormwater compliance, electrical, plumbing, security, exterior envelope improvements to walls, windows, doorways, and more. This long-term plan reflects an annual actual need of approximately $12 million per year, with urgent roof repairs planned as the top priority. During the meeting members commented on the cost savings that would come from investing in roof repairs sooner rather than later, with 6% construction escalation anticipated each year. This chart shows the roof needs, estimates, and anticipated rising costs over time.  

COVID-19 Investments to Improve Public Health and Reduce Risk
These FY22 requests are separate from COVID-19 related projects the District has undertaken this summer and fall. This includes approximately $1.2 million funded by federal and state allocations to upgrade or install: window screen installations, air purifiers, water bottle filling stations, COVID-19 isolation rooms, hand sanitizer dispensers, air quality risk assessment study, air filter replacement and upgrades, and COVID-19 related signs and decals across the District.

For more information about the Capital Plan, visit the October 7th section of https://www.framingham.k12.ma.us/scmeetingmaterial

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